It was the year I turned 30…
Before then, I was on a good path. I am a poor woman, I come from a poor family, that came from a poorer family. We were doing a pretty good job, from generation to generation, from migration to migration, uplifting the material aspects of our lives. I even got a degree in Sociology and I worked for a an international company.
And all this time, through all this crap, I never doubted that “sure, one day, I’ll be wealthy”.
What you need to understand is what “wealth” and “being rich” means to me.
This is a piece that would probably cause a heart stroke from laughing to many rich people in the world. Even I, can’t help but feel a little bit appalled by it.
Being rich to me, simply meant being able to take care of myself, living in a house (big enough to host people from time to time) and being able to go on holidays.
The dream was as easy as it gets. No vice here, no powerthirst, no grid, the simplest wish.
So what went wrong ?
Anyone who had a simple course of basic Sociology can answer you : Social Determinism.
The main obstacle to me being rich, was me being poor. Being poor since a long time : “Old no-money” if you will.
Because according to several published researches, I am no exception. The way our societies are built in many of its aspects Education, Justice, Work tend to ensure that when you’re born poor, you’ll grow poor. Only a few people make it to the next level : “The Middle Class”.
And in a capitalistic economy where individualistic behaviour is enhanced, where the middle class is threatened and were “World’s eight richest people have same wealth as poorest 50%” the wealth is as accessible to you as decency is to Donald Trump. Not impossible but extremely tight.
The second obstacle is another classic : I am a minority.
To add more fun to it, life decided that I will be a “two-flavored” minority : ethnic and religious.I guess, it wasn’t funny enough so far… So I won the jackpot, the perfect combo, the amazing grace of discrimination in Western Europe : being “ Arab and Muslim”.
In addition to the discriminations I had to overcome because of my class, I also faced discriminations based primarily on the fact that I am Arab and Muslim.
Here’s an example :
When I was 17, we had an english class where I had the best grades. People in my class were poor and from foreign origin. Only two were white. At the end of the year, on the last day of school, we learned that one of the white student had been chosen by the teacher for a scholarship to Canada. He wasn’t the best. The “selection process” was secret and we didn’t even knew that there was a scholarship to Canada or any scholarship. We never had an explanation.
This was a discrimination based on the fact that I was not white. How many other opportunities were automatically and discretely denied to me?
Last but not least, I am a Woman.
My path, my interactions, my opportunities were all impacted by the fact that society doesn’t treat women and men equally. As it is the case in many western countries, I was paid less than the men in a similar position. Even before earning a salary, I missed many opportunities because of my gender. Here’s another example :
There was a social youth program in the neighborhood I lived in. They organised many field trips (to the mountains, the beach, the forest etc) for the “disadvantaged youth”. I was never approached by them and neither did any of the other girls in the neighborhood.
The people managing that program never thought to include ”disadvantaged” young women into their activities, to help them socialize differently, to broaden their horizon.
Add these three reasons to the average price for a rent in any european capitals (like Brussels for instance), which can be up to 50% of a person’s monthly salary and you’ll have a pretty good vision of nowadays struggle for a woman like me.
I will never be rich and that’s ok for me
So yeah, until things really change, the fact that I will never be rich (money wise) won’t happen …. And it’s ok because there are other ways to achieve my ideal of wealth.
I understood that I was not alone. And mostly, I realised that I didn’t need to be rich to achieve my goals. I don’t have much but I share and people share with me too. There’s actually an economy around it. It’s called the “Sharing Economy” and it’s well defined by the Social Entrepreneur Benita Matofska :
“ The Sharing Economy is a socio-economic ecosystem built around the sharing of human, physical and intellectual resources.”
Basically, you can share many things, be it your flat or your car or your knowledge on how to make good pasta, everything!
For instance, when I was a student (and even more broke than today), I used to volunteer at music festivals I couldn’t afford.
I came to realize that, the world is changing and many discriminations that didn’t even had a name are gaining visibility, being denounced and fought against. Activist are fighting globally for more Social Justice.
As far as I’m concerned, I will stick to the only way that ever truly helped the humankind : cooperation and solidarity.
Written by Nadia